How to Prevent Trail Damage During the Mud Months

It’s spring in the Rockies.

This means that within a 24 hour period we can go from snow to sunshine to rain. It’s also what my Dad calls the “mud months” when you’re not sure if you should hike, snowshoe, ski or try to do all 3 based off of the trail conditions.

Regardless of the weather, during the mud months it’s important to try to take care of the trails and prevent unnecessary damage and erosion. Here are a few tips:

  • Stay on the trails. Don’t walk (or ride if you’re mountain biking) around mud puddles on the trails. Walking around a mud puddle damages vegetation on the sides of the trail and eventually widens the trail. Invest in a pair of gaiters and embrace the mud, walk right on through it. Boots can be washed.
  • Select your boots carefully. If you have the option, minimize trail damage by wearing a lighter pair of boots. Heavy boots compact the soil and can really tear a trail  up. But at the same time, a good waterproof boot is necessary to charge through muddy puddles and good traction is a must. So, know the pro’s and con’s of a heavy vs lighter hiking boot before you head out.
  • Adhere to trail closures. Sometimes if trails are too wet they will be closed to protect them until the mud dries up. As tempting as it is to bypass a ‘trail closed’ sign, don’t do it. Do you research before you head out and select an alternate open trail. We’ll try to keep local trail restriction information posted on our social media sites.
  • Look for south facing trails and lower elevations. Trails tend to dry up faster with a little bit of sun making southern slopes a better choice for dry trails.

What do you think about hiking on muddy trails, should we stay off of them until they are dry or should we use them, but be cautious?

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